Why We Need More Women and Minority Protagonists

Modern fiction has a problem: The vast majority of protagonists in novels and short fiction are men and most of those fictional dudes are white. It’s a problem that’s been bothering me for a while. Fiction is meant to be a mirror held up to our world, but for too many people, that mirror doesn’tContinue reading “Why We Need More Women and Minority Protagonists”

JFK: The Creation of an American Myth

When a bullet (or two, depending on what theory you subscribe to) hit President John F. Kennedy on a crisp autumn morning, America gained a whole new mythology. Regardless of who JFK was that morning when he started along the parade route, he would leave a martyr. Every culture has a key mythology that shapesContinue reading “JFK: The Creation of an American Myth”

In Pursuit of Pseudonymity

A lot has been written about J.K. Rowling’s unmasking as the writer behind The Cuckoo’s Calling. The novel was published back in April under the identity of Robert Galbraith — supposedly a former military police officer writing his debut book. Sales of the book were slow. Until this week, that is. On Sunday, the wizardContinue reading “In Pursuit of Pseudonymity”

Let Your Characters Speak for Themselves

Some writers are afraid of dialogue. I used to be one of them. I would write page after page of brilliant narrative — crisp details and settings so real you could smell the ponderosa pine sap on the thin mountain air — without a single line of dialogue. I was terrified to let my charactersContinue reading “Let Your Characters Speak for Themselves”

Pressed Leaves: The Genesis of Fictional Characters

People are fascinating. Amazing and terrible. Perfect and flawed. No two are ever alike. The possibilities for conflict are endless; perhaps that’s why writers and poets have been obsessed with them for thousands of years. There’s a reason no one writes about bowls of fruit — human beings are simply more interesting. We learn soContinue reading “Pressed Leaves: The Genesis of Fictional Characters”

Flash Fiction Friday: Out of Body Experience

The following character sketch was gleaned from graphite-smudged pages of my trusty old Moleskine: A young man is bent over a small, black notebook, writing quickly with a black pencil that has a black eraser. His black dress shirt has seen better days as evidenced by the white thread showing at the cuffs and collar.Continue reading “Flash Fiction Friday: Out of Body Experience”

People Watching is Awesome

I’m sitting in the sole terminal of the Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, about to fly to Minneapolis. With no one traveling with me, I am free to observe the people around me. Some people hate flying — I love it. Every interesting character from every novel I’ve ever read or wanted to write eventually wanders throughContinue reading “People Watching is Awesome”

Forget What You Know — Write What You Feel

“Write what you know.” It has been the maxim of writing teachers for decades. We have all been told to write what we know and the universe will reward us royalties and renown. I hope the writing gods forgive me, because I am about to commit an act of literary heresy. Don’t limit yourself toContinue reading “Forget What You Know — Write What You Feel”